Got to go to the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival at the Director’s Guild of America in Hollywood yesterday. I must say… a lot of my weekends are absolutely terrible, but once in a while, I get to do or experience something absolutely phenomenal and this was one of them.
We got to go to this screening because my dad knows the director. It wasn’t a full-length movie. It was about and hour and 20 minutes. And by golly the theatre in there was soooo legit. It was like one of those nice ornate theaters with a big red velvet curtain and everything.
Let me tell you though… the movie was stunning. It’s called Valley of Saints and it’s all about Kashmir (an area in northwestern India). If you don’t know, Kashmir is a very beautiful place that used to be one of India’s greatest tourists spots because it is located on an awesome lake. Now, there is a territorial dispute and a lot of political corruption going on. On top of that, the lake is getting polluted pretty badly. My parents actually visited Kashmir a year before I was born. That was one of the last years you could visit… I’m not sure you can even go there at all anymore. I just hope that things will change before I die. It really would be a shame not to see visit such a beautiful place.
Rather than focus on the politics of the area, the director, a Kashmiri-American, focused on the connection that the people share with the landscape. And my God, is it a beautiful movie. The characters are so lovable and hilarious.
The plot summary on imdb.com is: “War and poverty force Gulzar, a young tourist boatman, to run away from Kashmir with his best friend. But a military crackdown derails their escape, and they become trapped in Gulzar’s lake village. Waiting for conditions to change, they discover a mysterious woman, braving the curfew to research the dying lake. As Gulzar falls for her, rivalry and jealousy threaten his boyhood friendship and their plans of escape. Gulzar must choose between a new life and a new love. The first film set in the endangered lake communities of Kashmir, Valley of Saints blends fiction and documentary to bring audiences inside this unique world.”